The mood at the Vatican is apocalyptic. Pope Benedict XVI seems tired, and both unable and unwilling to seize the reins amid fierce infighting and scandal. While Vatican insiders jockey for power and speculate on his successor, Joseph Ratzinger has withdrawn to focus on his still-ambiguous legacy.
Finally, there is clarity. The Holy See has cleared things up and made the document accessible to all: a handout on checking whether apparitions of the Virgin Mary are authentic.
Everything will be much easier from now on. The Roman Catholic Church has taken a step forward.This "breaking news" from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) reveals the kinds of issues the Vatican is concerned with -- and the kind of world in which some there live. It's a world in which the official Church investigation of Virgin Mary sightings is carefully regulated while cardinals in the Roman Curia, the Vatican's administrative and judicial apparatus, wield power with absolutely no checks and the pope's private correspondence turns up in the desk drawers of a butler.
It's a completely different apparition of the Virgin Mary that has pulled the Vatican and the Catholic Church into a new crisis, whose end and impact can only be surmised: the appearance of a source in the heart of the Church, a conspiracy against the pope and a leak code-named "Maria."A House in Disarray
Fear is running rampant in the Curia, where the mood has rarely been this miserable. It's as if someone had poked a stick into a beehive. Men wearing purple robes are rushing around, hectically monitoring correspondence. No one trusts anyone anymore, and some even hesitate to communicate by phone.
It all began in the accursed seventh year of the papacy of Benedict XVI, with striking parallels to the latter part of Pope John Paul II's papacy. The same complaints about poor leadership and internal divisions are being aired outside the Vatican's walls, while the pope himself seems exhausted and no longer able to exert his power.Joseph Ratzinger turned 85 in April. This makes him the oldest pope in 109 years, and one of the few popes who have exercised what Benedict has called this "enormous" office at such an advanced age.Perhaps Benedict XVI simply knows the Vatican too well to seriously attempt to reform it. "As pope, this veteran curial insider has turned out to have virtually zero interest in actually running the Roman Curia," writes John L. Allen, a biographer of the pope.A Ship with No Captain
These days, it isn't difficult to find clerics at the Vatican who are willing to talk, provided their identities remain anonymous.
The monsignor who finds his way to a restaurant near Piazza Santa Maria in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood one evening worked closely with Ratzinger in the CDF for years. But even before the waiter arrives with water and wine, the monsignor delivers his verdict on Ratzinger's papacy: "The pope doesn't fully exercise his office!" In his view, instead of having things under control, they control him.
Pope Benedict Focuses on Legacy While Ignoring Vatican Power Struggle - SPIEGEL ONLINE